Tag Archives: film

World music classic #882

Smokestack Lightning” (1956) by Howlin’ Wolf (1910 – 1976) is ‘world music classic‘ #882.

“Smokestack Lightning”  is on the soundtrack to The Wolf of Wall Street, a boring film about boring people who think they are interesting because they are high.

It’s astonishing how cocaine has shaped the history of the West since the 1970s.

The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of American Psycho.

I liked American Psycho a lot better.

Other 1956 ‘world music classic’ compositions include “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, “Fever” by Little Willie John and “Love Is Strange” by Mickey & Sylvia.

World cinema classic #178

closing credits sequence of Dogville

Yesterday, I watched Dogville (2003) on DVD with my daughter, who had to watch it for her final year in high school. Her assignment: searching for Brechtian alienation elements. That wasn’t hard: the whole film is an attack on the suspension of disbelief.

I’d previously seen the von Trier film in the cinema and that time I had missed the importance of the closing credits sequence [above] with images of poverty-stricken Americans taken from Jacob Holdt’s social documentary photography book American Pictures (1977) and accompanied by David Bowie’s song “Young Americans.”

The film is an indictment of the hypocrisy of small town morality. Its most dislikable character is Tom Edison Jr., the wannabe writer, would be philosopher and cowardly lover who abuses Grace’s trust time after time.

Von Trier’s tale reminded me both of Thomas Hardy and the misery of Jude the Obscure and of the festering perversion in the small town of Samuel Fuller’s The Naked Kiss.

The film is a masterpiece. But bleak.

I’ve added it to my film canon: the World Cinema Classics list where it sits next to District 9 and Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde.

No American movie has ever found it “necessary” to show a toilet, let alone to flush it

I viewed the film Hitchcock last night. It features Geoffrey Shurlock as the censor of the Motion Picture Production Code, who says with regards to the production of the film Psycho:

“no American movie has ever found it “necessary” to show a toilet, let alone to flush it.”

Some thoughts:

I never knew that the American censor was involved during pre-production, i.e. before the shooting of the film.

It appears that the introduction of sound film coincides with the drafting of the Production Code. Did sound pose a threat more than imagery? Or was it the combination of sound and image that finally saw film evolving from a mere sideshow attraction to a genuine and ‘real’ mode of fiction consumption?

I remember a scene in Duck Soup where the Marx Brothers poke fun at the Production Code by showing a woman’s bedroom and then showing a woman’s shoes on the floor, a man’s shoes and horseshoes. Harpo is sleeping in the bed with a horse; the woman is in the twin bed next to them.

I remember extensive coverage of PsychoHitchcockianness and toilets in Enjoy Your Symptom! and The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, both by Slavoj Žižek.

Above: “The Murder” by Bernard Herrmann used in the shower scene. “The Murder” is World Music Classic # 811.